The BLIA Toronto English Subchapter on Nov 11th organized the first Chan and Tea Ceremony. The event attracted 33 participants and most were new members. It began with the participants paying close attention to their breath, Venerable Ru An led then led them to taste the tea with a quiet heart and to drink the tea with a calm mind. She also taught them to contemplate the similarity between the act of tasting tea and the meditative state; starting from preparing the tea, savouring, smelling, observing, and noticing the subtle change in the taste of the tea.
Along with the theme of the tea ceremony, “A Drop of Water”, Venerable Ru An invited everyone to focus on the act of drinking tea one sip at a time. Such concentrated attention brought about peace and calm and allowed the participants to experience the present moment with simplicity and tranquility. She also introduced Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s essay “A Drop of Water” from the Buddha-Dharma: Pure and Simple series to explain the wonder of life and to encourage everyone to learn from Venerable Master Hsing Yun who led a most fulfilled life as he overcame the vicissitudes of life with gratitude.
Elizabeth Lawson, Lizan Wang, Christine Huang and Hillary Chen were the 4 young Chan and Tea Ceremony practitioners. They had undergone 2 months of training which included learning of the correct gestures, use of the tools and tea leaves, all whilst maintaining composure during the making and tasting of the tea. It was Elizabeth’s first experience with the Chan and Tea Ceremony. She felt much serenity and peace in the process and she is extremely grateful for this unique opportunity. She felt that she had acquired new knowledge and gainedself-confidence through the practice. Lizan also agreed that the experience had helped her to be more mindful and to pay attention to what she is doing in the moment. She now understands what Venerable Master referred to as the cause and condition of a drop of water, and not to waste each precious moment.
The participants all agreed that they thoroughly enjoyed the tea ceremony. Many didn’t think that the simple act of drinking tea could bring such joy and tranquility. Through Venerable Master’s writings, they came to realize that the Buddha Dharma is here in our daily life.